The Illusion of Not Enough Time
What's stopping you from checking off that bucket list item? What prevents you from pursuing the dream that's been nagging at you for decades? Or perhaps has been quietly laying dormant, dying like an ember in a campfire.
No one ever points the moment when you're no longer "too young" for this or the moment you become "too old" for that. The usual excuses behind our "I can't" fall under finances (I'm too broke, in too much debt, too close to paying off debt, etc.), or work (I can't get time off, need to use my time off for x, y or z, too tired, etc.), or relationships (I have kids, I'm married, single, dating, engaged...).
More than anything, I believe we use time, or the lack of it, as the primary reason we don't do what we desire or ought to do.
The excuse, "I just don't have enough time" is one of the biggest lies I believe the enemy throws us, and we are all too eager to grab it and run, waving it like a banner excusing us from the responsibility of prioritizing that which God has entrusted to us.
One of my favorite quotes is by H. Jackson Brown Jr., author of Life's Little Instruction Book: "Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”
The difference between us and them, is how we spend our time. We're each given the same 24 hours, or 1,440 minutes, in a day. What you decide to do with those minutes is a matter of priorities.
Need to make a phone call to someone you need to make things right with? How many times in the last week have you thought about that person and making that call and decided you'd do it "after _______." Only to not get it done? How about getting back in shape? The discipline to get to the gym or hitting the pavement on a walk or a run is always a matter of managing time. We often choose to hit the snooze button or choose to watch a show on Netflix. Or we blame our lack of doing it on someone else, when no one can manage our time but us.
I found myself facing this issue most recently. I've wanted to get a graduate degree for five years. In 2014 I took the GRE and applied to a handful of colleges. I paid the fees, and was accepted into two universities. One was in New York for global studies and the other was in Massachusetts for creative writing.
I turned both down because I'd fallen in love and was going to move to the Middle East instead. I figured an advanced degree would always be there, but a person may not.
Five years and one divorce later, I found myself once again spinning the idea of a graduate degree like a coin on a tabletop. With every flick of my fingers the idea became clearer, the desire more pronounced. Excuses came like easy distractions, causing the idea to topple to a stop. I don't have the money. I've already used up most of my GI Bill getting my bachelors degree. I don't have the time...
And truth always led me to spin the idea again. I qualify for a student loan. I have some GI Bill funds left. I can move my schedule around, create firmer boundaries with current commitments, and use my time more wisely...
We always think there will be more time. Until the day there isn't. I'm only thirty, and I've already lost a handful of friends in the last few years to deaths that just don't make sense. A young mother died of stomach cancer just a month after giving birth to her third child. A quality Marine and great guy survived several tours in Afghanistan only to die in a car accident while home on leave. Another friend committed suicide. Still another friend died of cancer at twenty-four-years old... the list goes on. We always think we have time, until we don't.
I choose to believe I'm going to live a long life - it helps me have patience and hope. I also choose to believe that tomorrow may not come, either because Jesus is coming back or because we just never know. It helps me stay intentional with how I spend my time.
So I applied to grad school. God-willing by the fall of 2021 I'll have a Masters in Divinity with a focus on Global Studies. I believe God created me for something more than what's in front of me today, and this is one step closer to finding out what that is. I choose to believe the choices I made in the past weren't a mistake, but rather a chosen set of priorities that determined a course in my life. All of it will accumulate to ultimate good God has in store for me, because I love Him (Romans 8:28).
Here are a few questions to consider for you own life:
How are you spending your time?
Do you even know what's eating up the hours in your day?
How are you at saying "no" when something you want to do offers to interrupt something you need to do?
Is what you're putting time into adding value to anyone else's life, or is it all about you?
On the flip side, is what you're putting time into all about other people and not helping you toward your own dreams and goals?
What can you say "no" to in order to say "yes" to something better?
We only get one life, and no one is promised tomorrow. Not you, or me, or our loved ones. Spend the time you have intentionally, and wisely.